Middle Eastern Phyllo Rice Torte
- SERVINGS: 8
This is one of Toni Robertson's signature dishes: a vegetarian take on a festive traditional Moroccan dish called bisteeya, or pigeon pie. Hers is an elaborate phyllo shell filled with spices, dried fruit and almonds. In place of meat, Roberston likes to use the wild rice blend from Lundberg Family Farms (available at supermarkets and health food stores). You can substitute a combination of half wile and half brown rice.
- Olive oil spray
- 1 1/2 cups wild-rice blend, rinsed well (10 ounces)
- 3 cups water
- 3 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 4 Portobello mushrooms, stems discarded (3/4 pound)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sweet onions, such as Oso Sweet, thinly sliced
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 10 sheets phyllo dough, plus extra in case of tearing (1/2 pound), thawed if frozen
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform cake pan generously with olive oil. In a medium saucepan, cover the rice with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is barely tender and just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
- On a large nonstick baking sheet, arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, and the Portobellos, stemmed side down. Season the tomatoes and mushrooms generously with salt and pepper and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and thinly slice the mushrooms.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the onions, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned, about 10 minutes longer. Add the cinnamon and garam masala and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the cooked rice, raisins and dried apricots and season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of the sliced Portobellos and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley.
- Layer 5 sheets of the phyllo dough on a work surface, turning each successive one a quarter turn so that the stack forms a large round. Spray the top layer with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Repeat with the 5 remaining phyllo sheets, spraying the last sheet with olive oil. Fit the phyllo stack into the prepared cake pan, pressing it into the corners. Scatter 1 tablespoon of the parsley over the bottom. Gently pack the rice mixture into the cake pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Top the rice mixture with the remaining Portobellos and the tomatoes. Pour the beaten eggs evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the torte with the chopped almonds and the remaining 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, trim the phyllo overhang to about 1/4 inch.
- Bake the rice torte on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the phyllo is deep golden and the filling is set in the middle. Let the rice torte cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the ring and slide the torte onto a large serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.
The berry-fruit flavors of a ripe, robust Sonoma Zinfandel are especially well-suited to the sweet, slightly acidic and nutty notes in this torte.
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